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The European market potential for (Industrial) Internet of Things

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The European market for Internet of Things (IoT) solutions is growing. Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands are leading European IoT adoption, but Eastern European countries and the Nordics are following closely. Both consumer and business IoT offer opportunities, though specialisation may provide a competitive advantage. The home, health and finance sectors are the front runners in IoT adoption, and the shortage of skilled specialists continues to drive outsourcing.

The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has affected all European countries. While the Internet of Things networks remained mostly unaffected, investment in (I)IoT solutions has gone down as new projects were put on hold. However, many companies across Europe are also now seeing the importance of (I)IoT and increasingly understand the benefits it can offer. In the long run, it is expected that the COVID-19 pandemic will only increase the demand for (I)Iot solutions in Europe.

1. Product description

In order to understand the context of the (Industrial) Internet of Things services, it is necessary to understand what the (Industrial) Internet of Things is and what different types of activities fall under (Industrial) Internet of Things services.

What is the (Industrial) Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to everyday physical devices that are connected to and interconnected with the Internet. These ‘things’ are embedded with electronics, sensors, software, actuators and network connectivity allowing them to collect, send and receive data and to connect and interact with other devices. This collection and exchange of data enables the optimisation of processes, monitoring of environments and performing of computations or mathematical calculations.

Typically, IoT can be divided into 2 main categories: consumer IoT and Industrial IoT. Consumer IoT, often referred to simply as IoT, refers to devices for personal use. The latter, Industrial IoT (IIoT), refers to non-consumer devices used by organisations, such as companies, governments and utilities, to enhance operations. The purpose of IIoT is to increase productivity, efficiency and safety, while decreasing waste throughout operations. Examples of IIoT devices include manufacturing equipment, robots and 3D printers.

The purpose of consumer IoT devices is, generally, to improve consumers’ daily lives by, for instance, making them safer, healthier or simply more enjoyable. Examples of such devices include wearable health and fitness monitoring devices, home automation appliances and connected vehicles. Unless otherwise noted in this report, the term IoT shall be used to comprise both consumer and industrial IoT.

When IoT devices are connected with other devices and able to operate interactively and autonomously without human intervention, they are considered ‘smart’. Smart environments and devices are able to learn, operate autonomously and offer expert advice. They are typical examples of how big data, artificial intelligence and IoT are integrated.

Examples of smart consumer devices are smartphones, smartwatches and smart televisions. When smart devices are linked to and integrated in everyday settings and tasks, then we speak of smart environments. Examples of smart environments in Europe are smart homes, smart cities, smart manufacturing and smart industries.

IoT is closely associated with big data, machine learning, 5G (the next generation of mobile data infrastructure) and artificial intelligence. Higher bandwidths associated with 5G will allow more devices to connect to the Internet. This in turn means that there will be greater data generation and processing capacity allowing companies to benefit even more from big data. As the availability of data will continue to increase, this will further increase the demand for machine learning and artificial intelligence.

What are IoT services?

The key revenue activities associated with IoT deal with platforms, applications and services, IoT professional services, connectivity, big data solutions, software services and product development. An IoT market analysis showed that approximately 35% of IoT market value is generated from hardware, 27% from IoT services, 22% from connectivity and 16% from software.

The platforms, applications and services segment comprises multiple IoT layers, including cloud, data analytics and security. IoT professional services include systems integration, managed services and consulting. Big data solutions include skills and solutions that are needed to analyse, interpret and base predictions on IoT retrieved data. Software services include traditional software development, product development — like co-creation with specialised hardware manufacturers — and improvement of existing products with IoT features.

Developing IoT products also offers further opportunities for global market expansion, for example, via innovation and development of disruptive technologies, attracting investments possibly via crowdfunding and establishing start-up companies as spin-offs of your company, often in collaboration with the producer of the physical machinery or sensors in question.

Crowdfunding is defined by Fundable as a method of raising capital through the collective effort of friends, family, customers and individual investors via online channels, such as via social media and crowd funding platforms. By making use of different European crowdfunding platforms, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from developing countries can find potential investment partners already based in Europe and raise capital to help further develop business ideas.

Tips:

  • See our studies on big data and software developing services for more information about the developments of these promising export services.
  • Clearly communicate what services or solutions you provide and what are the benefits of outsourcing these services to you.
  • Take a look at sites such as Crowdsourcing Week and Silicon Canals to learn more about crowdfunding and to find the best European platforms. Different platforms are used in different countries.

2. What makes Europe an interesting market for IoT services outsourcing?

Europe is the third largest adopter of IoT after North America and the Asia-Pacific region. However, the European IoT market is growing annually by double digits. What makes Europe particularly interesting next to its growing market size is that both consumer and industrial IoT offer opportunities and that these opportunities can be found in many vertical industries. The growing IoT market combined with skills shortages means there is extra room for outsourcing.

The growth of the European IoT market has slowed down, but is expected to pick up quickly from 2021

As IoT becomes more mainstream, the related technology becomes cheaper and therefore more accessible to people and companies worldwide. Due to the considerable increase in the number of IoT devices, the IoT market continues to grow. However, the growth in 2020 is predicted to slow down compared to previous years and compared to previous predictions. This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused many companies to put projects that are not urgent on hold. However, a double-digit growth of IoT spending is predicted for the 2021-2024 period. After all, the relevance and importance of IoT is not decreased by the appearance of COVID-19.

On the contrary, IoT proved to be even more relevant in light of the recent pandemic. Research by Vodafone, conducted in May 2020, showed 84% of the companies that had begun to adopt IoT technologies found they had a positive impact on their ability to function during the COVID-19 pandemic. The same research indicated that more businesses are turning to IoT to help them grow and adapt in the face of unforeseen events.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Internet of Things Spending Guide, in 2019, Europe was responsible for 23% of global IoT spending. This makes Europe the third-largest market after the Asia-Pacific and North American regions, which respectively account for 35.7% and 27.3% of worldwide IoT spending. By 2024, Europe is expected to account for 25% of worldwide IoT spending. North America and Asia-Pacific will have lower annual growth rates of 11% and 13.2% respectively.

At the end of 2019, there were 7.6 billion active IoT devices in the world. This is expected to grow to 24.1 billion in 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11%. By 2030, approximately 23% of the devices will be located in Europe, 26% in China and 24% in North America.

Tips:

  • Move fast and build your capabilities and experience in IoT services now, to establish a position in the IoT market when the market will heat up from 2021 and beyond.
  • Take a look at which calls to action are being taken towards 2025 to develop a stronger digital Europe.
  • While pretty much all live events are currently cancelled, some have switched to virtual events. Examples of interesting (I)IoT events (some of which were previously live) to keep an eye on are IoT World Europe Summit, IoT Week, IoT Tech Expo, IoT Solutions World Congress and Industry of Things World. Of the above-mentioned events, only IoT World Europe Summit and Industry of Things World currently have concrete plans to go virtual.
  • Many start-up companies focus on IoT and IIoT solutions. Look for such companies to partner with.

Both consumer and industrial IoT offer opportunities

 

Consumer devices account for 63% of all IoT devices, with industrial devices accounting for the rest. This ratio is expected to remain the same in the coming years. This makes consumer IoT an interesting market for you but IIoT also offers good opportunities, as the spending is much higher. Although consumer devices comprise almost two-thirds of all connected devices, they only make up 19% of Europe’s IoT expenditure. In 2019, revenues from the consumer segment were estimated at €28.5 billion.

In the coming years, consumers are expected to purchase increasingly more expensive connected things, making the gap between consumer IoT and industrial IoT likely to decrease. Nevertheless, industries will remain the greater spenders.

An expected 60% of the connected devices will be cross-industry devices and 40% will be vertical-specific devices. Cross-industry devices are those devices that are used in multiple industries mainly to save costs, such as building management systems. Vertical-specific devices are used in specific industries, such as healthcare and manufacturing, to improve efficiency and accuracy.

No European information is available on the impact of COVID-19 on these 2019 predictions for 2020. However, global research forecasts that revenues in (I)IoT will rise 20% in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, across all (I)IoT sectors.

Tip:

  • Beware that many IoT technologies are rapidly becoming commodities, like mobile applications and cloud computing did before, for example. This means your window of opportunity in new technologies, business models and market segments is limited.

Many promising vertical industries

IoT is expected to affect all vertical European markets but markets that have traditionally invested more in IT are the front runners. The vertical industries with the greatest spending in Europe in 2019 were the consumer segment (€28.5 billion), manufacturing (€17.8 billion), utilities (€16.9 billion), retail (€14.3 billion) and transportation (€13.4 billion) sectors. For 2020, the biggest growth is forecasted in the healthcare industry and the transportation sector.

Before COVID-19 entered the stage, the European industries that were expected to see the highest annual growth rates throughout 2019 and 2022 were retail (18.5%), healthcare (17.9%) and local government (17.1%). Halfway through 2020, the growth rates had not changed much. In fact, there was more demand for IoT solutions than the initial prognoses, particularly in the healthcare industry and transportation. It might seem odd for the transportation sector to grow, as travel movements have decreased dramatically since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the growth is visible in the tracking of vehicles and people. Also, drone and robot delivery has the increasing interest of both companies and governments.

IoT spending among manufacturers is mainly focused on solutions supporting manufacturing operations and production asset management. In the utilities sector, IoT spending is dominated by smart grids for electricity, gas and water. Within the retail sector omnichannel operations, the increased interaction between physical and digital sales channels, are the single largest use case, and in transportation, the majority of IoT spending goes into freight monitoring and logistics solutions.

Healthcare is the fastest-growing IoT market in Europe. Applications for active and healthy ageing in particular are quickly gaining popularity. However, only few companies already offer specific solutions. Hence, specific IoT solutions and applications focusing on active ageing offer good opportunities. Healthcare is increasingly linked to big databases and medical advice is provided by doctors supported by artificial intelligence. Smart health is an explicit example of how IoT is linked with big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics.

Smart health refers to the use of mobile and other smart devices and sensors to improve the way that well-being oriented users can access and deliver health and wellness services. Examples of applications include health-specific personal wellness, such as wearable heart rate, glucose level and blood pressure monitors, and telehealth systems that exchange medical information between sites, medical professionals and patients. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly remote monitoring and ‘telemedicine’ are seeing a huge growth.

Smart finance includes applications for insurance, financial intermediation and broking, real estate activities, renting and leasing. The use of IoT in the financial sector started out with a focus on security but is moving into the development of new services, such as security, with remote asset security and smart ATMs, and financial services offering car, house and health insurance policies and rates, based on customer behaviour.

Smart customer experience includes the provision of personalised content to customers at all customer touch points in several domains, from retail to entertainment, which improves the way individuals interact with technology in their personal lives.

Smart homes include private and public buildings that are equipped with lighting, heating and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by smartphones, mobile devices or computers. Examples of smart home solutions include home security (cameras and sensors), energy management (climate control, ventilation and lighting) and appliances (kettles, fridges and washing machines).

Despite the identification of these key markets, there are tangible business opportunities for IoT, cloud, artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data technologies across all smart environments, including smart utilities, smart transport and smart governments.

Tips:

Skills shortages and lack of expertise

As IoT continues to expand, there is an increasing need for specialised developers and specialists. Key skills include data visualisation, security solutions, machine learning, hardware expertise and the integration of all IoT elements. However, there is a considerable lack of IT training, certification and experience in the European workforce. Due to the rapid technological innovations in IT, the skills of IT graduates do not match the needs of the market. A study by Capgemini revealed that 54% of the organisations feel that their digital transformations are being hampered by a digital talent gap.

Initially skills shortages were common for Western and Northern Europe, but the shortages have now also become apparent in other areas in Europe such as Eastern Europe. Countries such as Poland, Bulgaria and Romania have grown to become common nearshore destinations for Northern and Western Europe but they too are now facing skills shortages.

According to the Building a Better Working Europe survey released by EY in 2019, the scarcest skills are in cybersecurity, AI and robotics. Seeing as these are all big areas of maturity, the situation is only likely to get worse. All these shortages have a relationship with and an impact on IoT.

Tips:

  • Closely follow IT developments in your target countries. Good ways to do this are by looking at the European IT Observatory and industry association journals such as the German Outsourcing Association’s Outsourcing Journal. It is also recommended to set up a Google alert and to follow large consulting companies, such as Kearney, Gartner, Deloitte, ATOS, Accenture and Capgemini. Signing up for newsletters from different firms is another way of retrieving relevant information.
  • Develop consulting skills to advise potential buyers on how they can benefit from IoT and how you can help them with it. The earlier you are involved in the project, the better.
  • Build up IoT expertise and an IoT team in your company. Offer solutions first locally and regionally to get references and confidence in your capabilities.

Focus on core business activities

A major advantage of outsourcing (I)IoT services is that European end-user companies do not need to hire in-house expertise if they outsource these activities. Developing IoT solutions and services requires excellent knowledge, skills, tools and security provisions that most European end-user companies do not have. Outsourcing allows them to focus on their core business and gives them the flexibility to engage specialised developers as and when needed.

This is particularly relevant during the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Companies need the staff they retained to perform their core activities, which may already include additional tasks from colleagues that were fired or furloughed. There is also relatively little room in the budgets for new hires, making outsourcing an attractive solution.

Tips:

  • Emphasise your expertise, experience and domain knowledge in your marketing activities. This can be the deciding factor when European companies are selecting a service provider.
  • Read Stack Overflow’s annual Developer Survey, which shows which developer skills are in demand and provides demographic information on software developers worldwide.
  • Keep your skills up to date. If possible, obtain certification and clearly communicate you are certified in your marketing and client interactions.

Specialisation in IoT offers opportunities

IoT offers a lot of opportunities for companies from developing countries to innovate and develop their own products. Apart from solely focusing on software development services you could develop your own IoT devices and hardware.

If you are offering outsourcing services for IoT software development, it is still software development. However, IoT software development requires additional specialisation, including knowledge of hardware, sensors, data analytics and vertical market expertise, such as healthcare and manufacturing. Since IoT software development requires additional expertise, it could provide opportunities for service providers like you.

Tips:

  • Read our study about outsourcing software development services to find out more about the market for software development in general.
  • See our study about demand for IT outsourcing services in the European market for more information about what makes Europe an interesting market for IT outsourcing in general.

3. Which European countries offer most opportunities for IoT services outsourcing?

Europe’s total IoT spending in 2019 equalled €150 billion, accounting for 23% of global IoT spending. Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy have the largest IoT markets in Europe with an accumulated €92.6 billion spent in 2019, which is equivalent to 62% of Europe’s total spending. Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark are interesting markets because of their growth in IoT adoption, but also due to their openness to outsourcing. Central and Eastern European countries show significant growth in IoT adoption, making them interesting markets too.

Germany: Europe’s IoT champion

 

Germany was among the biggest spenders on the Internet of Things in 2019. Germany was responsible for 5% of all global IoT spending in 2019. This puts the country in fourth place, just behind Japan (9%) and before Korea (4%). Improving business processes is a very important driver for IoT deployment in Germany, and 18% of German companies say that is their main goal.

In the beginning of 2019, IDC forecast that Germany’s 2019 IoT spending would exceed €35 billion and be the largest in Europe. Coming from €23.6 billion in 2017, German IoT spending is expected to grow by 15.5% annually reaching €42 billion in 2021. The majority of Germany’s IoT spending is in enterprise and industrial IoT, with the automotive and manufacturing sectors leading the country’s IoT adoption rate. The IoT solution market in Germany is strongly driven by mid-market companies.

Germany has a strong interest and history in industrial IoT, having made constant industrial investments and innovations in the past decades. It is, therefore, expected that Germany will be a pioneer in utilising 5G to ramp up industrial IoT further. In the middle of July 2020, approximately 50% of the population had access to the 5G network. Further rolling out of the network is planned for the second half of 2020.

Initially, German companies saw IoT as a mechanism to develop new services and business opportunities, but the perception is changing more recently to increasing the use of IoT to generate higher efficiency in existing processes leading to cost reductions. Despite Germany’s large IoT market size, cybersecurity is gaining importance too. When offering IoT solutions, it is recommended to focus on minimising vulnerabilities by, for instance, combining IoT solutions with blockchain and edge processing technologies.

Germany is a very interesting market due to its large market size, but Germany remains risk sensitive and less open to offshore outsourcing compared to other European countries, such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. This is changing as German companies face skill shortages and become more experienced in offshore outsourcing. The COVID-19 pandemic has also created more opportunities for outsourcing companies, as the pandemic has been a crucial moment in showing what is possible with remote working and outsourcing. The COVID-19 crisis has softened Germany’s generally stiff corporate culture.

German companies naturally prefer to work and collaborate in German, which is why they prefer nearshoring when they do outsource. You can increase your chances of success in Germany by collaborating with a local German-speaking partner rather than approaching end users directly.

Tips:

  • Increase your chances of success in Germany by focusing on mid-market companies in the industrial sectors, which drive IoT adoption.
  • Read this summary about IoT adoption in Germany on the ISG group website.
  • Note that many websites in Germany are available only in German, because Germans prefer to do business in their own language. If you would like to research potential German customers, make sure to install a translation extension on your browser or to use a translation tool.

The United Kingdom remains attractive despite Brexit

In our study about the demand for IT outsourcing in Europe we show that the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit) made companies more cautious in their outsourcing decisions, partially contributing to a decline in outsourcing after 2016.

However, this behaviour is not reflected in the United Kingdom’s IoT spending, which increased from €17.4 billion in 2017 to approximately €22.3 billion in 2019 and is expected to continue growing. The United Kingdom was among the biggest spenders on the Internet of Things in 2019. The United Kingdom was responsible for 3% of all global IoT spending in 2019. This puts the country in seventh place, just behind France.

Of all reviewed companies in the United Kingdom, 18% say their main goal of IoT deployment is cost reduction. Improving business processes is also a very important driver for companies from the United Kingdom that want to start using IoT, and 18% of the companies say that is their main goal. The number of smart devices in homes in the United Kingdom has grown exponentially. The market is expected to be worth €6.44 million by 2024, with a household penetration of almost 45% at this point.

Of all European countries, the United Kingdom is the most open to offshore outsourcing and the least cautious about doing business with companies in developing countries. Their openness is influenced by their cost-savings business culture and their long-standing business relations with many countries.

Research from ISG shows that companies in the United Kingdom also face a shortage of skilled IoT talent and hence seek expertise from service providers to help them make sense of new technologies. This talent shortage combined with the openness to outsourcing means that the United Kingdom offers good opportunities. At the same time, however, beware this will also mean strong competition in the market.

Tips:

France: speak the language

France was among the biggest spenders on the Internet of Things in 2019. France was responsible for 3% of all global IoT spending in 2019. This puts the country in sixth place, just behind Korea (4%) and just before the United Kingdom. Of all reviewed companies in France, 16% say their main goal of IoT deployment is cost reduction. This makes France one of the top 4 countries that find cost reduction the most important driver. The other 3 countries are the United States of America (19%), the United Kingdom (18%) and Australia (15%).

IoT spending in France grew from €17,5 billion in 2017 to approximately €22.3 billion in 2019. Although France has a large IoT market size, the French prefer to collaborate and work in their own language. Speaking French or finding a partner able to do so will increase your chances of success when entering the French market.

The sector expected to see the most IoT investments in France is the distribution and services sector (30%), followed by consumer markets (25%), the public sector (16%), industry (15%) and infrastructure (13%). A study by Zebra Technologies shows that 78% of French companies will continue to increase their IoT investments over the next 2 years.

Major players in the French (I)IoT market are Intel Corporation, Compagnie IBM France, Amazon Webservices France, Robert Bosch France SAS, Cisco Systems, SAP France SA, Microsoft France, Oracle France, SAS, General Electric Company and Hewlett Packard France SAS.

Tips:

  • Look up the IoTone website to learn about IoT suppliers in various countries, including France. Look also into case studies to see what IoT solutions these companies have introduced.
  • Consider IoT solutions for the distribution and services sector, consumer markets, public sector or industry when targeting the French market. These are the industries that are expected to see the most IoT investments.

Italy: IoT helping the Italian economy bounce back

 

Italy’s economy has been suffering with structural and non-structural problems since the great recession of the late 2000s resulting in a below-average annual economic growth among European countries. Despite the economic problems, topped with the COVID-19 crisis, the IoT market has been helping the Italian economy to leap forward and register equal growth compared to other Western European countries. Italy’s IoT spending reached €17 billion in 2019, the fourth-largest European market after Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

The Italian market for Internet of Things solutions is estimated at €2.3 billion in 2019, an increase of 28% from 2018. Almost half of this turnover can be attributed to 2 segments: connected cars and smart meters. Connected cars saw an increase of 14% to a value of €1.2 billion and 1.6 million connected vehicles. The market for IoT solutions for smart meters in Italy increased by 19% from 2018 to 2019, reaching a value of €670 million.

Business benefits in efficiency and effectiveness are the main drivers for companies to invest in IoT solutions but the adoption of IoT among companies in Italy is also driven by the National Industry 4.0 plan. The segments that see most IoT growth in Italy are smart metering and smart asset management solutions for utilities, smart cars, smart buildings and smart homes.

Italy’s IoT adoption is expected to grow between 20% and 25% annually. The European Commission together with the Italian network organisation Confartigianato predicts that the market for Internet of Things in Italy will be worth 5.4% of Italy’s GDP in 2020. Combined with the government’s strategy to boost investment in new technologies, research and development, this makes Italy an interesting market to focus on.

Although Italy remains interesting due to its growth in IoT adoption and its market size, it may be the least interesting market for offshore outsourcing, as Italian businesses are known to be not too open to it. Also, Italian language skills are often required. If Italian companies choose to outsource, they prefer to work with countries in the West Balkans, like Albania.

Tips:

  • Consider focusing on connected cars, smart metering, smart asset management, and smart building when you decide to focus on the Italian market for industrial IoT. These are the markets where most IoT investments are taking place.
  • Keep in mind that the 3 main drivers for the adoption of IoT solutions among Italian companies are: reaching new customers, cost rationalisation and organisational improvement.

The Nordics

The Nordic markets (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland) are smaller than the markets of Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy; yet, their combined spending almost reached €13 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to over €17 billion in 2023.

The Nordic growth in IoT spending is fuelled by the increasing adoption of IoT solutions by enterprises. The need for effective monitoring of business processes, improvement in business values and the requirement for a significant increase in efficiency are all factors that will enhance the market growth in the upcoming years.

Due to their openness to outsourcing, these growing markets could be interesting for you to look into. Experts believe that the competition in Nordic markets will be less strong than in the United Kingdom, making them easier targets to consider. Read more about IoT services and trends on the ISG website about IoT in the Nordics.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands has not been an early adaptor of IoT solutions, but this is changing. There is a growing number of connected IoT devices, and the advantages and importance are increasingly recognised by Dutch companies and consumers.

The market value of IoT initiatives in the Netherlands is expected to reach €58 million in 2020. Healthcare is a growing segment, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic has the healthcare industry looking for solutions to optimise the industry.

The 5G network was launched in April 2020, with a key focus on the Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Groningen and Rotterdam areas. The Netherlands is also the first country to have nationwide LoRa network coverage. A LoRa network (Lower Power Wide Area) is particularly interesting for IoT applications, as it is good for the battery life of the connected devices.

Because of increasing use in innovative technology, the Netherlands is gaining the position of ‘guiding country’ when it comes to IoT initiatives. Other countries that have been marked ‘guiding IoT counties’ are Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Companies in the Netherlands are traditionally fairly open towards outsourcing. Language barriers for doing business in the Netherlands are generally low, as the Dutch are very proficient in English.

Tips:

  • Look up the large scale IoT pilots across Europe.
  • Determine which country is best to target by looking at what cultural similarities you have with it, what diaspora there is, what historical ties you may have with it and what languages are spoken there. These factors will influence which countries are more suitable than others.
  • Identify which countries have the greatest demand for your particular expertise by seeing which specific IoT events are taking place in different countries.

The technology behind IoT is advancing rapidly, becoming faster, cheaper and more efficient. For example, smartwatches have evolved considerably since their debut. Their processors now have more than double the capacity, while using a fraction of the power. Technological developments are expected to drive demand for IoT devices in the coming years.

Examples of SMEs from developing countries that have successfully tapped into one or more of the below trends are Vadion from Pakistan, which developed an IoT app for the start-up Quiske from Finland that evaluates a rower’s performance and helps improve it; Jyaasa from Nepal, which creates all sorts of web and mobile software for international customers, and Inoxoft from Ukraine, which built an image annotation tool for a German company. All of these cases are examples of applications where IoT is combined with machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Digital transformation

Businesses are increasingly using digital technologies to create new and modify existing business processes, as the business and market requirements are changing. This change of businesses in the digital age is called digital transformation. IoT is considered to be one of the key technologies enabling and driving the digital transformation, as the ability of devices to sense and transmit data through networks and connectivity is creating extensive amounts of data that help companies achieve considerable benefits but would be impossible for humans to handle.

The emergence of COVID-19 has only enhanced the digital transformation. The mass adoption of working from home, online shopping, food deliveries and virtual events has only increased the demand for IoT solutions in Europe. The digital transformation is also very present in the healthcare industry.

5G cellular network technology

With higher bandwidth, 5G, the next generation of mobile data infrastructure, will enable the rise in the number of devices connected to the Internet along with the amount of data they generate. The new 5G technology that will be rolled out in the coming years will allow more than 350,000 devices to be connected per square kilometre, which is 500 times more than comparable existing technologies. Although 5G may not provide any direct opportunities by itself, it is necessary for the expansion of IoT.

The European Union intends to have 5G cover at least 40% of the European workforce by 2025, including 70% of European industrial sites and 80% of main logistics routes. Because it will enable more devices to connect to the Internet, 5G is considered one of the most important infrastructures to further develop IoT. Service providers are recommended to start looking into the opportunities and possibilities associated with 5G, or risk decreasing demand for their existing products and services.

The arrival of 5G connections also paved the way for edge computing. The reduction in cost and the increased computing power of the devices used in the IoT make it possible to process data collected on the edge (on the device itself, before sending over the data) and allow huge bandwidth savings. It also leads to greater compliance with privacy regulations, in many cases. This is because the data are gathered and encrypted on the device itself, as opposed to sending out raw data.

Develop niches: robotics

Robotics in artificial intelligence involves designing, developing and producing devices, machines and robots that can replace humans and replicate human actions. The global robotics technology market size was valued at €53.25 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach €144.34 billion in 2027. This is a CAGR of 13.5%.

Robotics and IoT are considered 2 separate fields, but their technologies are intertwined and grow simultaneously. It is expected that the Internet of Robotic Things (IoRT) will be a growing value-added niche combining the 2. IoRT involves the combination of sensor data from a range of sources, processes and using it to control and manipulate objects in the physical world. IoT sensors and data analytics technologies give robots an even wider situational awareness leading to better task execution.

As IoT, machine learning and artificial intelligence develop, so do the opportunities to find niches that combine these different technologies.

 

Tip:

  • Read more about IoRT and additional niches that could offer opportunities for specialisation.

Online IoT initiatives can help you to find customers

Several European countries have launched or are launching national initiatives to stimulate industrial IoT implementation. These include PlattformIndustrie 4.0 in Germany and Smart Industry in the Netherlands, which can have a positive effect on these markets. They often invite companies to participate, for example, via working groups with stakeholders.

Tips: 

  • Check the European Commission’s list of national industrial IoT initiatives for programmes in your target countries. Also keep track of other new initiatives that can boost national markets for IIoT services.
  • Read more about IoT trends in this blog by Loriot. It divides trends into Tech, Industry and General Trends.
  • Take a look at our study about trends in the European IT outsourcing market to see which trends are impacting IT outsourcing in Europe.

This study has been carried out on behalf of CBI by Globally Cool B.V. in collaboration with Laszlo Klucs.

Please review our market information disclaimer.

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